Clean Up Underway At McCotters Marina After Fire

Crews were out from early morning until dark on Saturday continuing to clean up the mess left behind after a fire destroyed 25 boats at McCotters Marina in Beaufort County.

This fire has devastated the lives of many boat owners. Many of the boats are completely destroyed and unrecognizable after the fire.

Boat owners have not been allowed back onto their boats unless they have an escort and only to get personal items or take pictures because of the continued danger.

Meanwhile crews continue their recovery operations by trying to get rid of excess oil and other debris that could be a hazard. Beaufort County Emergency Management Coordinator John Pack says there is still a lot of clean-up work to be done, but they are making headway.

He says, “The containment area has been narrowed down, we have about 1600 feet of boom instead of 2000 like we did Friday.”

Pack also says they haven’t seen any environmental impact so far. “We haven’t seen any wildlife deaths so far. No fish floating or birds that had a problem. We’re constantly watching for that, but so far there’s been nothing in this location at the containment area,” says Pack.

It could be several days before boat owners are allowed back on their boats according to Pack.

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Investigators say an electrical problem started a fire that devastated a Beaufort County marina Friday morning.

Three people were injured and some 25 boats were destroyed in the overnight fire at McCotters Marina.

Beaufort County Emergency Management Coordinator John Pack tells WITN News that the fire has been ruled electrical.

A news release from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office says physical evidence found during the investigation and information collected during interviews indicates the fire was caused by an electrical fault. They say foul play is not suspected.

Booms have been placed in Broad Creek to help control pollution and debris from the fire that broke out around 12:30 a.m. The marina is east of Washington on Broad Creek.

Officials say fuel from about two dozen boats has contaminated the entire creek. The U.S. Coast Guard and a hazmat team from Cherry Point were at the scene to help contain debris and assess the environmental impact. Eastern Environmental, a private hazardous materials company, has been called in to conduct the clean-up.

The fire broke out at the north dock of the marina. The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office says at least 25 boats were involved in the massive blaze that had some people literally leaping for their lives. Authorities say most of the boats were a total loss.

One woman had to jump from a boat into the frigid creek to escape the flames. She was transported to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia. Her fiancee, Mark Hundell, was also treated for burns to his face and hands. Both have since been released from the hospital. The sheriff's office says, in total, three people were treated for minor injuries.

Beaufort County Fire Marshal Curtis Avery says about 100 feet of a pier burned and firefighters worked for about five hours to control the blaze.

Beaufort County Emergency Management Coordinator John Pack says they believe the first started on one boat and spread to others at the marina. He says many of the boats lost were one of a kind, handmade or antique boats so right now there is no estimate available. Pack says it's not known how long the cleanup will take.

Beaufort County has just one boat capable of fighting fires on the water and that boat was out of service for scheduled repairs. Pack says because of the intensity of the fire it would not have made any difference.

People gathered say about 80 boats are docked in the marina, and people actually live on seven or eight of them. Boat Owner Mike Little is one of them. Little said, "I heard a whooshing noise. They said there were explosions, but I didn't hear that. When I looked up, my curtains were really red. I looked out the window, and the whole docks were on fire. "

The Bunyan Fire Chief Wesley Williams says fighting this fire was particularly difficult. "The dock is completely burned away," Williams said. "We were fighting from long range, plus everything is covered in ice. So we're concerned about the safety of our fire fighters slipping into the creek."

Chief Williams says they don't know yet what started the fire. They were planning to double check to make sure everyone was out of the boats at sunrise, but everyone has already been accounted for.

Fourteen agencies responded to the fire, including area fire departments, NC Emergency Management and the Sydney Dive Team.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Herman Polleunis Location: Sint-Joris-Winge on Mar 8, 2011 at 01:50 PM
    Hey Mary, I remember you mentioning the boat as a new passion... The most important thing is that nobody got hurt in that terrible fire. Greetings from Belgium! Herman (herman.polleunis@gmail.com)
  • by Susan on Jan 18, 2011 at 08:19 AM
    Pandora made people smile. She was liked by boaters and non-boaters alike. North dock boathouse was a real community. And my neighbors there, more than anyone, know how much I loved her.
  • by Russ K Location: Washington on Jan 11, 2011 at 04:05 PM
    Mary, Dallas knows about my offer of my 1949 Chris Craft....she is not the elegant lady Mercedes III was, however, she isn't the work either. You and Dallas did a great job on an old gal, trully a Beautiful Lady has left the lake. I can only imagine the tears you shed that night and the comment from your post. Of course we knew Dallas was the mate only....besides, Dallas needs a hobby.....Mary likes to varnish...I am sincere in my offer.
  • by ron Location: denver, co on Jan 11, 2011 at 09:22 AM
    Thankfully all are well but I sympathize with those who have lost their boat; especial when they have put much care and attention into it--we all complain when we work on them but at the heart of it it's a matter of the heart. thanks to Mike Little sounds like his actions saved some lives. Sail on Mike! Also much thanks to fire fighters and clean up folks (ron-former CWYC charter manager)
  • by Mary Foreman Location: PineTown, NC on Jan 11, 2011 at 05:49 AM
    Dallas and I would like to use this public forum to extend our SINCERE THANKS to ALL of you that have posted, called, text, stopped by, or otherwise let Dallas and I know that you are thinking of us. Your kind thoughts, love and prayers have been truly humbling, and yes invaluable at this time of sorrow. Our love goes out to all our friends that are experiencing this same loss. We are very, very gratful to God that no family members, or friends lives were lost in this tragedy. Because of the many lasting friendships she brought to us, we will never regret the time and money spent on her. We can get another boat if we wish, but SHE can never be replaced. While Mercedes was only an inanimate object, to those who experienced her, she somehow was more than just wood on water. Sadly, one more piece of Nautical History is lost forever. Good By Mercedes III. Sail on Beautiful Lady, Captain Mary Reed Foreman & Dallas G. Foreman, Jr
  • by Mary Foreman Location: Pinetown, NC on Jan 11, 2011 at 05:26 AM
    This is in response to "good job firefighters!! posted on Jan7,2011 at 11:06am. After the fire, and ensuing melee, I have just discovered that this article, and posts are here. If you will go to my facebook photo that you are raging about, you will note that I have removed the seemingly offensive comment. I am VERY SORRY that you took it COMPLETELY out of context. It was ment to simply explain to people what they were looking at in the photo.(most of my fb friends and family do not live here). I NEVER ment in any way that the firefighters were pathetic. I was referring to the fact that in this area we do not have firefighting boats, and with the entire building over water, this is all that they could do. I have public servants in my family,and truly understand their dedication. So, Kindly tell your wonderful husband, and and everyone else in the community that you have railed to about me, that you missunderstood. We are grateful beyond measure to ALL the EMS teams. Mary
  • by Pat Location: Greenville on Jan 10, 2011 at 05:42 PM
    The first sailboat I owned by myself I named "Myott", it was a 30' Columbia. I kept it at the "fuel dock" for a few years. I lived on it for awhile and enjoyed being there. Everyone was nice and I especially enjoyed the weekends meeting the other boat owners. I am so sorry for everyone's loss and am glad everyone is okay. McCotter's will never be the same without the fuel dock but I will have the memories forever.
  • by David Location: Cary on Jan 10, 2011 at 04:44 PM
    When I first started sailing many years ago my first Marina was McCotters. I was on the "fuel" dock. I left and moved to Hubs Rec, which was destroyed by a hurricane. I am now in New Bern, but what I want to say is McCotters was a special place, and will always be for me. I am so sorry about what happened, but am so glad all are safe. Does anyone know if the cat on the catamaran is safe? The one that would not leave the boat, but would call you over to scratch his neck.
  • by Jim Location: Hillsborough, N.C. on Jan 10, 2011 at 01:55 PM
    My heart goes out to everyone who was injuried or lost a boat or suffered damage. I, along with my wife, Linda and our friends Todd and Tammy had tried to donate one weekend per month to Mary and Dallas for the restoration of Mercedes III for the past 6 years. Dallas and Mary had at least 14,000 manhours in MIII. Dallas estimated Linda, Todd, Tammy and I had about 2,100 hours between the 4 of us. Although the work was hard, we learned a lot and had great fun. The six of us hung out for about 12 hours on Saturday and talked about MIII and the other boats that were lost and how thankful we are that everyone seems to be OK. I was especially worried about Mr. John until it was confirmed he had escaped without injury. I know Dallas and Mary have appreciated the compassion everyone has shown them and the other boat owners. I'm very proud of Mercedes III, as Dallas said: she never bowed her head, not even at the bitter end and she went out a fine lady, in true "Viking Style"!
  • by Russ Location: Washington on Jan 10, 2011 at 07:26 AM
    This should speak to the loss by Dallas and Mary. It is Mercedes III after her christening. Yesterday, I saw her bow stem still gallantly sticking up out of the water. It makes your eyes swell..... http://classicpamlicocruises.com/images/interior/interior.htm
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